Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04CARACAS1510
2004-05-05 18:54:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Caracas
Cable title:  

PRO-CHAVEZ GROUP PLANS LEGAL ACTION AGAINST

Tags:  PREL PHUM VE 
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C O N F I D E N T I A L CARACAS 001510 

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/20/2014
TAGS: PREL PHUM VE
SUBJECT: PRO-CHAVEZ GROUP PLANS LEGAL ACTION AGAINST
AMBASSADOR

Classified By: AMB. CHARLES S. SHAPIRO FOR REASONS 1.4 (d)

-------
SUMMARY
-------

C O N F I D E N T I A L CARACAS 001510

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/20/2014
TAGS: PREL PHUM VE
SUBJECT: PRO-CHAVEZ GROUP PLANS LEGAL ACTION AGAINST
AMBASSADOR

Classified By: AMB. CHARLES S. SHAPIRO FOR REASONS 1.4 (d)

--------------
SUMMARY
--------------


1. (C) The pro-Chavez human rights group ASOVIC delivered a
letter to the Director General of the Office of the Foreign
Minister Demir Porras declaring its intention to begin legal
action against the Ambassador for alleged involvement in the
April 11, 2002 events. The group cites alleged training of
various Venezuelan police forces, recordings of police radio
transmissions, and the alleged presence of U.S. ships in
Venezuelan water during the April 2002 events.
Paradoxically, the letter says ASOVIC will join in the law
suit against President Chavez currently in the International
Court of Justice in the Hague, as an interested party. Asked
how the MFA will assist the group with the case, MFA official
Rebeca Guevara (protect) told us the Ministry planned to take
no action. ASOVIC joins the chorus of pro-Chavez voices that
insist on repeating allegations, despite their being refuted
by the OIG, of Embassy and USG direct involvement in the
April 2002 events. END SUMMARY.

--------------
ASOVIC
--------------


2. (C) On April 11, the human rights group ASOVIC delivered
a letter to the Director General of the Office of the Foreign
Minister Demir Porras communicating its intention to pursue
legal "actions" against the Ambassador. ASOVIC alleges that
the Ambassador conspired in the deaths and injuries incurred
by the victims of the April 11, 2002 events. ASOVIC is the
National Association of Victims of the Coup d'etat, a
pro-Chavez human rights group formed after the restoration of
Chavez to power in April, 2003. The group blames the
Metropolitan Police (PM) for the killings on April 11, and
claims that most of the victims were Chavez supporters.
Carlos Correa, Coordinator General of the independent human
rights group PROVEA, told PolOff on April 28 that ASOVIC
tends to support the government, and does not cooperate with
other human rights groups on any projects.

--------------
Suit against the Ambassador?
--------------


3. (U) In the letter, the group says it is informing the
MFA of the next international actions to be carried out
against the Ambassador. ASOVIC asserts it has enough

evidence to carry out legal actions in U.S. courts, and/or
international courts. The only specific action referred to,
however, is the intention to make itself a party to the suit
that has been brought against President Hugo Chavez in the
International Criminal Court in the Hague (using their
accusations against the Ambassador to defend Chavez). The
suit against Chavez has been brought by the human rights
group VIVE, which PROVEA, the Vicariate on Human Rights, and
the human right group COFAVIC, also criticized as
politicized, for its association with the opposition.

4 (C) According to reports on the pro-GOV website
aporrea.org, Porras told the representatives of ASOVIC that
the social movements should act autonomously to support the
GOV's international actions to show the world their version
of what happened in April 2002. PolOff asked MFA North
America bureau Chief Rebeca Guevara April 23 how the Ministry
intended to handle the matter. Guevara said the MFA was not
intending to take any action.

--------------
The evidence
--------------


5. (U) ASOVIC uses several standard Chavista accusations to
support its case. The first piece of "proof" is alleged
training courses in assault given to the PM Fenix Group, and
the municipal police of Chacao and Baruta, two opposition
controlled municipalities of greater Caracas. The second
"proof" is alleged recordings from the Operations Control
room of the PM on April 11, which supposedly make reference
to the Ambassador (allegedly code named "Zeus 32 Americana").
The tapes purport to be communications among senior PM


officials and the officers in the field on April 11, 2002.
Pro-GOV groups have claimed that the references to "Zeus 32
Americana" somehow prove U.S. involvement. Other "proof" is
the alleged presence of U.S. ships in Venezuelan waters on
April 11, 2002 and the presence of U.S. military personnel at
Fuerte Tiuna the same day. ASOVIC calls these "Acts of
State" which led directly to the deaths of their family
members.


6. (U) ASOVIC also criticizes statements by NSC Advisor
Condoleeza Rice, A/S for WHA, and the head of the Southern
Command accusing the GOV of having totalitarian tendencies,
and violating human rights. ASOVIC asserts the statements lay
the groundwork for the coup, along with financing of
pro-democracy (seen as pro-coup) NGOs. The association
presents all this as a plot to overthrow the democratically
elected constitutional government of Venezuela.

--------------
Groundless
--------------


7. (U) These allegations are part of the standard GOV
propaganda line. They are baseless. A special report by the
Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found:

-- The USG gave no training to the Chacao, Baruta or
Metropolitan Caracas police forces.

-- "Zeus 32 Americana", if it exists, has nothing to do with
the Ambassador or the Embassy.

-- "Nothing to indicate that the Department or Embassy
Caracas planned, participated in, aided, or encouraged the
overthrow. The record shows that the Department and the
embassy consistently discouraged the use of undemocratic and
unconstitutional means to remove the democratically elected
Chavez government. Similarly, OIG found that U.S. assistance
programs in Venezuela, including those of National Endowment
for Democracy (NED),were consistent with U.S. laws."

-- There were two US Coast Guard cutters engaged in anti-drug
exercises with a Dutch cutter on April 11, 2002, and the
Dutch cutter had a helicopter airborne. But these units were
100 miles off Orchila Island, not off the mainland coast of
Venezuela. The exercise was known to Venezuelan officials,
and had taken place in the past. They had nothing to do with
the events going on in Venezuela.

-- US military personnel left Fuerte Tiuna on April 11, and
returned on April 13, 2002 to try to find out who was in
charge, and had nothing to do with the coup.

-- The OIG report finds "There was never any attempt to
advise, support, or otherwise cooperate with, members of the
opposition."

--------------
Metropolitan Police
--------------


8. (U) Much of ASOVIC's alleged evidence is related to the
GOV view that the killings in April 2002 were the
responsibility of the opposition controlled PM. The only
people in jail for the events of April 11 today are eight PM
officers in prison awaiting trial. A court absolved the
pro-Chavez gunmen who fired weapons Puente Llaguno at the
opposition marchers on April 11, 2002, and President Chavez
declared them heroes of the Revolution in 2003. The court
that is holding the PM officers is the court that ASOVIC says
has accepted the alleged PM recordings from April 11, 2002,
as a valid piece of evidence. The policemen are being
charged under a Venezuelan law conspiracy provision. The
opposition claims the film of the PM firing on Chavez
supporters, which is one of the main pieces of evidence
against the PM, actually shows them defending protesters from
attacks by Chavez supporters.

--------------
COMMENT
--------------


9. (C) ASOVIC's evidence is specious and the threat of
beginning a case against the Ambassador is part of the GOV's


campaign to use anti-U.S. rhetoric, and attacks on the
Ambassador, as a distraction from the presidential recall
referendum (septel). The GOV's charges are baseless and they
know it, but the GOV repeats them, presumably in hopes of
convincing voters that Chavez and the GOV are the defenders
of Venezuelan sovereignty against an invented US threat.
ASOVIC has no credibility whatsoever in independent human
rights circles, and is 100 percent identified with the
Bolivarian revolution. It is a stalking horse for the
Bolivarian revolution.
SHAPIRO


NNNN

2004CARACA01510 - CONFIDENTIAL